The Light Programme: A Classical Touch

in Monthly Programme, Radio Drama, Radio Riel Main, ZBS Radio Hour

by Elrik Merlin on Saturday, 28 July, 2012

Today in our monthly programme of Light Music, we focus on the “light orchestral” or “light classical” end of the spectrum.

We can think of Light Music as filling a gap between out‐and‐out classical music, and the exceptional quality music production library and film music of the 1940s‐50s — the latter also featuring from time to time on The Light Programme. It’s a continuum with perhaps Sullivan at one end (and we’ll hear some of his Overtures today) and maybe Coates at the other – though it’s difficult to define boundaries. In between are composers like Addinsell, Alwyn, Ketelbey, Tomlinson, Binge, Lane and others, and it’s their music that we’ll be featuring today. What these pieces and composers have in common, is a “classical” approach to melodic music. Their work is full of great tunes, and it utilises orchestral forces with as much aplomb as any classical composer. But in general (though not always), the music is a little lighter in tone and feel.

I should note, incidentally, that the title “The Light Programme”, in addition to referring to the BBC radio service of the same name (which was renamed in 1967), also pays homage to “Brian Kay’s Light Programme”, which ran on BBC Radio 3 from 2002 until 2007.

Brian Kay has been one of the key people (along with Gavin Sutherland, Ernest Tomlinson and friends) who has been responsible for the immense resurgence of interest in Light Music in the 21st century and the rediscovery of these marvellous compositions. And if you are a lover of Light Music, please do find out more about the Light Music Society.

In fact, one is moved to wonder why there is no longer any coverage of Light Music on the BBC, even on Radio 2, when there’s a potential audience in the UK of over 20 million people over the age of 55 — plus many others who enjoy the retro appeal of light music along with production library music from the 1960s (as evidenced by the packed house in Islington recently for the latest performance of the KPM All Stars).

The ZBS Radio Hour

Then at 19:00 and 03:00 in the UK — that’s 11am and 7pm Pacific Time — please join us for the latest installments of our enthralling steampunk mystery serial, Steam Dreamers of Inverness, at the top of the hour, followed by the penultimate straaange SF tale in our series Stars ‘n’ Stuff on the half hour.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin. You can listen to the programme in‐world now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:

Pictured: the BBC Midland Light Orchestra.


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